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November 21, 2013

Media column: Major local radio changes brewing; NFL notes; N-word stirs debate

FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN

Marc Hochman has told friends he is leaving 790 The Ticket’s morning show in a move that will significantly impact two of the market’s sports-radio stations.

Hochman is expected to move to WQAM-560 in 4 1/2 months, and barring something unforeseen, look for him to take over the station’s afternoon-drive slot, which has been handled by Channing Crowder and Brandon Guzio since Jorge Sedano left for ESPN Radio in September.

Hochman, who declined to comment, will remain at The Ticket, where he co-hosts the morning show with Jonathan Zaslow and Joy Taylor, through the end of his contract on Dec. 31, unless 790 decides to yank him from the air sooner than that.

But because of a non-compete clause, Hochman cannot begin work at another station until April 1, according to an industry source familiar with his contract.

WQAM is very much interested in Hochman, and if he takes over the afternoon drive show there as expected, he would be competing with his buddy Dan Le Batard, whose 790 program he produced for nine years.

Hochman, 43, parlayed his creative work as Le Batard’s executive producer into a full-time on-air gig; he was named The Ticket’s morning co-host in August of 2012, after four months of filling in, and helped steer the program to the highest ratings among South Florida’s four morning-drive sports shows. 

The Ticket wanted to keep Hochman, but former program director Tod Castleberry missed an exclusive negotiating window in his contract, which was one factor that led to Castleberry’s dismissal this week, according to a station source. Castleberry declined to comment.

At WQAM, Hochman likely would be given some authority to decide his on-air co-hosts, with the approval of station management. It’s unclear whom he might hire.

If Hochman takes over WQAM’s afternoon drive slot as expected, Crowder would resume working with Adam Kuperstein from 1 to 3 p.m., because station management very much liked how those two interacted. That change also would happen in April.

WQAM would have loved pairing Kuperstein and Crowder in the 3 to 7 p.m. slot, but Kuperstein’s job as NBC 6’s lead news co-anchor prevented that.

Presuming Crowder resumes working with Kuperstein in April, WQAM then must decide whether to retain host John Renshaw (who was hired by previous program director Sedano) or use Curtis Stevenson – who took over Crowder’s role alongside Kuperstein – and/or Guzio on the 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. show.

So WQAM general manager Joe Bell has decisions to make. And Hochman’s availability might end up affecting his station more than the station he’s leaving. Bell declined to comment.

AROUND THE DIAL

CBS might turn to No. 3 NFL analyst Dan Fouts to replace No. 2 analyst Dan Dierdorf, who’s retiring in January after 30 years of delivering mostly smart, sensible commentary as a broadcaster --- including 12 years on ABC’s Monday Night Football and the past 15 years on CBS.

But if CBS turns to Fouts – which is hardly assured – network sports division president Sean McManus would need to decide whether to keep him paired with Ian Eagle or team him with Greg Gumbel, who is No. 2 behind Jim Nantz on CBS’ NFL play-by-play depth chart. CBS’ Rich Gannon also deserves consideration. Dierdorf, 64, said traveling has become too difficult because of physical ailments (hip, knee, back).

### Is this really necessary? Turner Sports and CBS will produce three different telecasts for the two men’s semifinal games in the NCAA Tournament this season.

The traditional national telecasts will air on TBS, while TNT and TruTV will carry the same games with announcers and camera angles customized for each team. CBS will air the 2014 and 2015 championship games, with Turner getting the 2016 title game.

### The Dolphins’ bullying scandal has spurred passionate debate about use of the N-word, with prominent black announcers offering starkly contrasting views about whether that racial epithet is acceptable.

On CBS, Shannon Sharpe suggested it is not, adding: “All black Americans know the stigmatism and vitriol and hate that comes with that word.”

But TNT’s Charles Barkley sees it differently: “I’m a black man. I use the N-word. I’m going to continue to use the N-word with my black friends and white friends. In a locker-room, we use racial slurs. What I do with my black friends is not up to White America to decide what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate.”

TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal said: “When we say the [N- word] to each other, we mean it in a positive sense.”

And ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said: “I have a problem with white people framing the discussion for use of the N-word. [Commissioners] David Stern, Roger Goodell need to call in some people who look a little different from them.”

### Tim Tebow hired powerhouse agency CAA to represent him with on- and off-field opportunities. If he pursues TV work, a studio role on CBS’ SEC football package would make sense, provided he’s willing to say anything interesting or substantive.... Former Pro Bowl receiver Randy Moss fills in for Howie Long in Fox's studio Sunday.